Nostalgic for backmasking
December 6, 2004 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Remember the days when parents only used to be worried about the backwards messages in songs? Feeling nostalgic for a song with a little backmasking? While few today buy-into the idea that backmasked lyrics have any affect on the subconscious (and vinyl LPs that can be played backwards are few and far between) some artists persist. What are your personal backmasking favorites? What was the appeal for you?
posted by spock (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In Half-Life 2, if you record the screams of a burning zombie and play it backwards they're screaming "God help... help me..."
posted by bobo123 at 10:01 PM on December 6, 2004

At the right moment in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Nature Trail To Hell," if you play it backwards you will hear: "Satan eats Cheez Whiz."

The appeal should be obvious.
posted by ramakrishna at 10:18 PM on December 6, 2004

When I was a pup I attended for a brief period of time an awful Southern Baptist school wherein we were exposed to the evils of backward masking. I didn't really know what to think about it at the time, but the classic Turn Me On Dead Man (au file) featured on Revolution No. 9 really creeped me out.
posted by undule at 10:21 PM on December 6, 2004

Boards of Canada have plenty of backmasking and hidden messages in their music. (and what wonderful music it is!)

This is a really fascinating look at several of the weird goings on in their music, which lists lots of the back masking ('a god with hooves') And it talks a bit about it in their entry in wikipedia.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:24 PM on December 6, 2004

lots of weird Branch Davidian references too.... spooky goodness.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:25 PM on December 6, 2004

Nek orbs I dra obye kym!
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:26 PM on December 6, 2004

is that true, bobo123? I could have sworn I've been hearing backwards messages from those goddamn burning zombies.
posted by puke & cry at 10:27 PM on December 6, 2004

My Mom was always suspicious of April Wine. Go ahead. Laugh. That's what I'm doing.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 11:12 PM on December 6, 2004

I remember staying up til five in the morning on my friend's PC when I was about 14 or so. We'd take turns with sound recorder, trying to teach ourselves how to speak backwards. Record words, flip it, listen, record us imitating it, flip it back, repeat...

Lotsa fun.
posted by angry modem at 11:22 PM on December 6, 2004

The only thing my parents were worried about was "rap," specifically DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (pre Fresh Prince of Bel Air), worried that I might get "ideas" from "Parents Just Don't Understand." Oh, that and GN'R, but I suppose they had reason for that.
posted by Quartermass at 11:23 PM on December 6, 2004

angry modem, heh, so did a friend and myself.

Uh, only thing that comes to mind is a song by Bloodhound Gang "Lift Your Head Up High and Blow Your Brains Out". They make a reference to judas priest, and then play some backwards speech. If you reverse it (as I discovered in goldwave at the time) he's saying "Devil child will wake up and eat chef boyardee beef-a-roni"
posted by pemdasi at 11:37 PM on December 6, 2004

Count me in with the backwards speech and Sound Recorder goodness. Found out in 1993 that the names of friends who were seeing each other sounded the same backwards as forwards: "Carmen and Mark".
posted by John Shaft at 11:51 PM on December 6, 2004


I love reading this -- in what seems to be most of the "spoilers" listed in the site
posted by RubberHen at 11:57 PM on December 6, 2004

I always thought the accidental messages (Another One Bites the Dust = It's fun to smoke marijuana) were kind of interesting at first, but ultimately silly. And undecipherable without being told what you're expected to hear.

As far as deliberate messages, I like Pink Floyd's "You've found the secret message" from The Wall, and ELO's "The music is reversible but time is not", which are both self-referential, as is Boards of Canada sticking a backwards Jeff Lynne talking about backmasking into Happy Cycling.

My friend who's into audio trickery found that "Jesus is a sausage" made a good audio palindrome.

You should also check out the crackpot Reverse Speech Institute.
posted by O9scar at 12:42 AM on December 7, 2004

The bit at the end of "I'm So Tired" that when reversed sounds like "Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him" always creeps me out to no end. Maybe it's a thing about backwards talking I got from Twin Peaks, but there's something about the rising tone there that haunts me. You've been warned.
posted by rustcellar at 1:03 AM on December 7, 2004

Yeah the Half-Life 2 thing is real, someone on gamefaqs a while ago linked to some samples.
posted by bobo123 at 1:23 AM on December 7, 2004

Eh, backmasking is outdated, hidden images are the new thing.
posted by abcde at 1:31 AM on December 7, 2004

That's incredible, abcde.
posted by rustcellar at 1:34 AM on December 7, 2004

the waitresses' i could rule the world if i only had the parts came out at the height of backwards-masking fear. in the middle of the song "the smartest person i know", they recorded a backwards message along the lines of "we wanted to see if we could get you to play this backwards."
posted by pxe2000 at 4:01 AM on December 7, 2004

TMBG have an entire song, On Earth My Nina, which is another of their songs (Thunderbird) performed backwards. On Earth My Nina makes more sense than a backwards song should.

And even the ultra-poppy The B-52's have some backwards talk on Detour Thru Your Mind.
posted by scruss at 4:11 AM on December 7, 2004

My favorite: In the 80s, Christian rock band Petra had a song called "Judas Kiss". The intro when played backward said something like "why are you looking for the devil when you should be looking for the Lord?" Classic!
posted by drinkcoffee at 5:35 AM on December 7, 2004

I had no idea that The Rutles ("a legend that would last a lunchtime") did any backmasking, but on a hunch (that it would figure) Googled: Yup.
Bonus points to the Python boys for the use of ex-Beatle George Harrison
posted by spock at 5:57 AM on December 7, 2004

Where we're from, birds sing a pretty song

and there's always music in the air...
posted by u.n. owen at 6:49 AM on December 7, 2004

The B-52's one alread mentioned was my favorite. It said:

"I buried my parakeet in the backyard. Oh no, you're playing the record backwards. Watch out, you might ruin your needle."
posted by lumpenprole at 7:21 AM on December 7, 2004

There's a couple of lines in the Butthole Surfer's Pepper that are supposedly just the first and last line of the chorus in reverse. I hear it occasionally but never get the energy up to investigate. Anyone, anyone?
posted by m@ at 7:35 AM on December 7, 2004

Here's one I was exhilarated by finding myself shortly after the album came out, and only recently have found on the internets:

David Bowie's "Move On" from Lodger - you know the middle part where he's singing "Somewhere someone's calling meeeee / when the chips are doowwuuun / Ah stumble like a blind mayannn / Can't forgetchooo, can't forgetchoooo..."? Well, that vocal line doesn't do anything backwards, but the backing vox, on which the whole section is built, is the chorus melody of "All the Young Dudes" backwards.
posted by soyjoy at 7:43 AM on December 7, 2004

abcde: neat!
posted by kamylyon at 8:06 AM on December 7, 2004

Not a backwards lyric but backwards instrumentation (organ and guitar) on the 1969 album track "Pre-Road Downs" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash (for my money, one of the best albums of all time). Weird sounding, but trés cool.
posted by spock at 8:15 AM on December 7, 2004

Windowlicker is pretty neat to listen to, you can hear the spiral (listen at the very end, that's that last raising arc at the right).

Also, there's plenty of backwards instrumentation out there, I was just listening to Modest Mouse's The Moon & Antarctica which doesn't even have a track without it.
posted by abcde at 3:32 PM on December 7, 2004

posted by abcde at 3:34 PM on December 7, 2004

I like the backwards phrase in "No Anchovies Please" by the J. Geils band: "It doesn't take a genius to know the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad."
posted by SisterHavana at 10:23 PM on December 8, 2004

Bonus points to the Python boys for the use of ex-Beatle George Harrison

Technically only one Python boy (Eric Idle) is responsible for the Rutles, unless you count Neil Innes (yes, Michael Palin does appear, but only as a guest, really, like George Harrison appears as a guest)

Is it sad to say that the Rutles were the first thing I thought of? "Stig has been dead for ages, honestly"
posted by dagnyscott at 8:38 PM on December 9, 2004


[/Little Nickie]
posted by I EAT TAPES at 5:11 PM on December 13, 2004

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